SightlessKombat Logo

Dead Space (Remake): Accessibility Review: Remake Us Whole


The Xbox copy of the game used in this review was supplied by the publisher, at no cost to the reviewer.


Dead Space is a much loved survival horror franchise, at least it started out that way, with latter entries progressively skewing more towards the action horror genre of frantic battles and even more frantic escape sequences. But a lot has happened since 2008's seminal hardware pushing game from Glen Schofield, who now heads up Striking Distance Studios, makers of the recent release The Calisto Protocol.

In this culture of remakes, remasters and reissues, it was great to see this announced after so long, with the latest main-line entry, Dead Space 3 releasing in 2013.

In the 15 years since the franchise began, accessibility has become far more prominent, with titles beginning to be designed to be played start to finish without sighted assistance.

Now though, in 2023, when accessibility and inclusivity are both justifiably huge talking points, does the Dead Space Remake live up to what is now less of a pipe dream and more of an expectation or hope for new titles? The question really is, how playable is Dead Space Remake as a gamer without sight?

First boot

On launching the game, you are presented with the user agreement, which is not narrated and has no audio to indicate where to move to in order to accept it. Some might consider this a failure already given the game was announced as having menu narration and, whilst I agree this is problematic, pressing A did get me past this particular frustration point. Pressing a as previously advised takes you to an epilepsy health warning which, again, is not narrated and unfortunately it disappears automatically. This means that if you were, say, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to read the various screens and were too late to catch the message itself, you've missed that content.

This warning is followed by logos and the initial settings screen, with the cursor sadly seemingly being placed on continue rather than menu narration.

Going down once and pressing right will turn menu narration on, though nothing speaks when doing so. If you move down from there, you will then hear content spoken in a voice that will be familiar to those who have played EA titles like Madden amongst others over the past few years.

What Narrates?

The narration in this title could be described in 3 words: basic but good. For anyone reading this hoping for absolutely everything to be narrated, unfortunately this isn't the case with this game, though granted, as you will discover, more than I'd necessarily have expected is able to be spoken via synthesised speech here.

When moving through the menus and adjusting settings, the narration only reads the main menu entry (i.e. story, easy, medium, hard, impossible etc when selecting a difficulty) instead of reading the important tooltip information that would be featured alongside it which includes the effect those difficulty levels have on the game, in this specific example.

Gotta Go Fast

If you're a screen reader user on a daily basis, you'll be aware of how slow most implementations of narration can sometimes be and how vital it is that you are able to customise the speed and volume parameters to your liking.

Alas, this particular implementation does not allow you to adjust the speech rate and there appear to be some pronunciation issues, as well (with the word "gameplay" sounding closer to "gumplaay",) but those are usually down to the engine and voice being used. Overall, other than the caveats above, this is a solid first impression for a franchise just starting out with including gamers without sight or those that require menu narration in general directly.

More Menus And Settings

If you tried to say to someone what setting up a modern game involves, chances are you'd reference a brightness slider of some kind.

Dead Space Remake (DSR hereafter) is no exception, though this brightness screen doesn't read after clicking continue in the initial settings menu, with OCR working well with this to let you know what you're supposed to be doing instead.

From here, starting a new game, viewing the full suite of options and the like is all perfectly doable, though of course lacking in speed, fluidity and conveyance of at times potentially crucial tooltip text.

Starting The Game

The first thing that struck me when starting up a new game was the audio design, voice acting and score. Playing on a surround sound rig, for the sake of testing, the thrum of the ship's engines, n eerie and suspenseful soundtrack, alongside some solid reverb creates a great atmosphere in terms of a mental image, at least for me. There is, however, no audio description, so new players who were unfamiliar with the original game before the beginning might have trouble understanding the nuance of what's going on, though thankfully the plot is comparatively easy to follow from dialogue and audio alone in most instances.

Speaking of dialogue?

Isaac Speaks!

Yes, if you weren't aware, Gunner Right, who voiced protagonist Isaac Clark in Dead Space 2 and 3 reprises his role and steps into the engineer's shoes once more, ditching the silent immersion of the original with a performance that takes into account the horror of what is taking place, as well as the character's training and background, which is very interesting to see.

As much as I enjoyed the on-edge nature of the originals mute character allowing me to inhabit his body, for lack of a better description of the experience for the uninitiated, I also appreciate the uniting of all of the main-line games under a fully voiced lead and the fact that Isaac was not recast is appreciated as Right's performance is well-delivered and merges seamlessly with the rest of the cast (even at the comparatively early point of the game I've seen up to as of the time of writing this sentence).

Good, Bad And Unexpected

Given tutorials aren't technically menus and only menu narration was listed as a feature, having tutorials be narrated was a hope rather than an expectation from me. As much as it would've been great to have those included, as there are many important elements of gameplay shared only through the text on screen, knowing the game well enough only meant I had to adjust to controls rather than mechanics most of the time. However, gamers without sight trying to play this through with as little assistance as possible would be unaware of important information as to how things like kinesis work.

What I was impressed to find narrates is the inventory and, as much as some elements of the interface lack information, even being able to see your items in the first place is a useful addition.

Stores work pretty much the same way the inventory does, but you don't know how much items will cost or give you in terms of credits to buy or sell, thus making the management portion trickier than it otherwise might be without a workaround of some kind.

Benches, though also narrated, have a similar issue in that they are confusing to work with, but that is mainly down to their tree-style structure and the elements sharing the same labels (capacity, damage, reload, capacity) etc if you were moving through them, instead of, for instance capacity I, damage, reload, capacity II which could make things a little less convoluted. At least you know how many nodes you have when you go into the interface, which is useful.

When walking through the corridors and slaying necromorphs, all you want to hear is the abruptly spoken words "save station", as I'm pleased to report that interactive elements like "tram repair", "open" or "call" are spoken for various interaction prompts that require pressing A to engage. Speaking of save stations, those interfaces are narrated too, though the saves aren't numbered, so having multiple playthroughs going might get complicated in short order. That being said, I believe I discovered a rather interesting bug, which was that on launching the game, I'd occasionally hear the words save station, meaning the narrator cash may not have been cleared correctly.

Navigation Systems And The Geometry Problem

Dead Space's 2008 release might be one of the earliest pairings of camera and objective based navigation systems, pre-dating the release of Resident Evil 6 by several years. Unlike Gears Of War's 2006 iteration of a similar system which didn't always work as intended (making you walk to where you could see the objective, not to where it actually was), Dead Space actually had pathfinding that would take you, for the most part, exactly where you needed to be, including through doors, round corners and most importantly for suspense, down those long, foreboding hallways.

This feature returns in DSR, though it is unfortunately not the upgraded version from Dead Space 2 that let you directly select whether you wanted to go to save stations, stores, benches, the objective etc.

The main problem with any navigation system like this is how they handle geometry or, more specifically, when they don't know how to. If geometry or enemies get in the way of the player, they can cause you to get stuck for potentially significant periods of time. Also, if said systems aren't targeting the correct objective (say a puzzle piece that needs to be moved before a door is opened), you may often be stuck wondering what to do, even if the path to progression is reasonably simple.

Such was the case when I tried to run away from enemies at a point in the opening sequence, with their bodies blocking my path. Thankfully I was on story difficulty so did not need to worry as much, but were on anything higher than that I could've been very much stuck here, particularly as the system would try and turn me back on myself thus hindering me further.

A latter puzzle also sees you finding items in the environment to move and manipulate using your stasis ability. The interesting thing here, given that up to this point you've been pretty much unimpeded by navigational issues other than the previous running segment is that the objective tracker seems to lose all sense of direction and essentially just says "your objective is this entire room", not giving you a direct pathway for anything.

Even once you complete parts of the puzzle this is not rectified, meaning that without sighted assistance, you won't be able to get through this, which is such a shame given what I'm about to go into, the arguably fun (if scary) part of this game, the combat.

Targeting and Aim Assist

Cut Off Their Limbs! Is the oft memed phrase from Dead Space's history, with the only way to kill the series antagonistic space zombies being to sever and dismember their individual body parts in order to render them not a threat. However, I had wondered whether I as a gamer without sight would be able to control this at all, with the comparatively limited aim assist information revealed before launch.

It turned out, even on stream, that I was able to line enemies up to a degree without being able to see them in the first instance just through their audio and related accessibility options. At least on the easy and story difficulties, I was able to kill them with relatively little damage being sustained. This stands in stark contrast to the original, which required input from my CoPilot via Titan 2, footage of which you can see in this Twitch clip.

The combat audio has had a new coat of auditory paint, as you might expect, with hits on enemies sounding visceral and crunchy, including with the characteristic stomp mechanic. All the weapons sound impactful, so you'll almost certainly know when your plasma cutter or other improvised severance device connects with your foes as well, something that I did feel was missing from the original

"Entering Zero Gravity"

One of the major concerns I'd had with the remake was with the sections that take place in zero gravity (0-g hereafter). 0-g sections in the original 2008 game were constrained to leaping from what might loosely be termed as "sticky" surfaces, those being predefined leap points that you could get to by aiming and pressing a button. In this 2023 remake, however, the controls have been adjusted to allow for full 360 degree movement, no leaping required.

It turned out that other than some strange orientation issues, the navigation assist worked as intended, allowing me to manoeuvre my way through with relatively little frustration. The only annoyance was a lack of a cue when it was safe to land or you'd got to the needed location, which would've been useful during combat sequences as well when trying to run rather than fight.

Original VS Remake?

Having played through the original game on stream, though it was several years ago, I can definitely say that even in the limited amount of the game I've seen already, the changes that have been made seem so far to only enhance the story or fill in gaps. Granted, I haven't seen all the characters or enemies of significance throughout the remainder of the story, but it is clear that Motive put a lot of time and effort into making the events of the game feel much more fleshed out, as opposed to bloated and it still keeps you guessing as to what might've changed in the familiar corridors of the Ishimura.

The One That Got Away

For those of you that were following my streams back in around 2020/21, you may remember the wonderful Jennissary and I playing through Dead Space 1. What you may also remember, however, is the one section of the original game that we tried for weeks and weeks to get through, but couldn't. This resulted in having to use off-stream local CoPilot (to circumvent the latency introduced through Parsec and potentially capture cards) which were the reasons so many attempts were needed in the first place and, with simultaneous frustration and elation, it only took maybe two or 3 tries to get through it under these newer, less laggy conditions.

Why am I talking about a section that was in this game from over a decade ago? Because it's been re-imagined in the remake.

I am, of course, talking about the ADS (Asteroid Defense System) section, where you fired cannons at incoming asteroids like it was an 80s arcade game.

How did this work in the remake?

Recently, DB and I teamed up for another Dead Space Remake stream and, after being informed that this section had been reinterpreted, I was both intrigued and not exactly thrilled at the prospect of having to go through that, though cautiously optimistic that the accessibility mentioned above with aim assist might help me seek out revenge on these hunks of space rock.

Once we got to this area of the game, however, things went from bad to worse from an accessibility standpoint:

First off, the scenario plays out in a vacuum and in 0-g, neither of which happened in the original version of this sequence (though getting to the cannons in the original did require a 0-g and vacuum walk).

Secondly though, the aim assist did not function as expected when calibrating the guidance laser, thus meaning that in a sequence where I could've previously had at least a sense of being involved, it was in fact easier for DB to take over and aim and fire the laser at the various required points.

I would love to see this section and others updated so that any targets that need to be aimed at can work well with the aim assist targeting, but this section does go to show that puzzles (or in this case, story progression sequences) are just as important in accessibility terms as combat, menus or anything else in terms of the whole experience.





The original Dead Space released in 2008 was a landmark game, breaking new ground in the way stories were told in terms of immersion, pacing and horror in videogames. However, the Dead Space remake released 15 years later changes up the original enough, including through the addition of accessibility options that, if you can get sighted assistance and fancy obliterating necromorphs, I'd recommend picking it up whilst being mindful of the caveats.

In recent gaming history, as gamers without sight, we've seen a number of titles not being fully accessible, but being so close, seeing the things that could be improved or are missing entirely allowing potentially huge success stories to be just another footnote in the path towards full agency for players who currently require sighted assistance. Dead Space remake is just one more to add to the list, but I hope the feedback from my reviews, live streams and other content as well as those of other creators can assist EA and Motive in meeting the now expected and hoped for standards that could see future projects become meteoric successes like The Last Of Us Part I.

Back to the main Reviews, Guides and Articles page